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The need to educate multi-disciplinary thinkers has never been clearer
16 November 2020
Global events have reminded us of the complexity of the world we inhabit. As we navigate and battle large-scale challenges such as Covid-19 and Brexit, the need to educate polymaths – that is, multi-disciplinary thinkers — has never been clearer.
Although we know that leaders in politics, business and academia will need knowledge that spans beyond the siloed nature of studying single disciplines, over 80% of students in the UK still study one subject at university.
Not only is this system out of step with the current working world — in which only 25% of jobs require a specific discipline — it leaves students unprepared for the future of work. In fact, projections show that 65% of today’s students will work in jobs that don’t yet exist — so how can we best prepare them to succeed?
Leaders of the future will need to be comfortable with data and know how to analyse it, understand technology and not be afraid to use it, as well as having a firm grip on the complexities of how humans behave. They will need to have a broad network of knowledge and be able to apply it to changing problems.
At the London Interdisciplinary School (LIS) we’re building a brand-new university that will prepare graduates for the changing nature of the future of work. Students will learn the knowledge and skills needed to address social and global problems in an increasingly interconnected world.LIS is shaking up the British Higher Education sector as the first institution in over 50 years to be awarded Degree Awarding Powers without emerging from an earlier institution or being validated by another provider — a historic achievement.
From Autumn 2021, LIS will offer a three-year undergraduate degree to its founding cohort of 100 students: A Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Interdisciplinary Problems & Methods.
The degree is organised around a series of real-world problems that will provide a framework from which to deep dive into different academic disciplines, giving students the opportunity to learn a range of quantitative and qualitative research methods, as well as a collection of mental models from across academic disciplines. These will form their toolkit for interdisciplinary problem-solving and prepare them to enter the rapidly changing world of work with valuable and transferable skills.
LIS students won’t have to wait until they graduate to make an impact in London. Instead of traditional assessment tasks, our students will hear about real-world challenges from London-based companies and organisations, and work to create authentic products that tackle those problems.
A challenge of some traditional Higher Education is that, students sometimes receive limited interaction with the world of work and can draw little concrete connection between their learnings at university and the real world, which can hinder them as they progress into employment.
That won’t be the case at LIS. Students will be able to build a professional network, expose themselves to the world of work and experience working in different sectors so that they graduate ready to work thanks to annual paid internship brokered by LIS through its network of employer organisations. London companies will be a first port of call for LIS students, who will add value through their interdisciplinary knowledge, broad set of skills, and solutions-oriented mindsets.
There is a need for Higher Education to be ‘porous’. Just like we can no longer approach education in the silos of disciplines, we should also break through the silos of academia and the ‘real world’. We need to find multiple touchpoints through which we can build connections between academia and practitioners — and generate new insights and perspectives together. To this end, LIS has launched theLIS Network — a growing community of companies and organisations that are impacted by, and committed to, tackling complex issues both at the local and global level. Organisations in this network support LIS’ mission to transform young people’s lives and tackle problems that matter most — to society, to the world, and to London.